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Spirituality

10 Attributes of a True Seeker

David Langness | Aug 20, 2016

PART 3 IN SERIES The Tablet of the True Seeker

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Aug 20, 2016

PART 3 IN SERIES The Tablet of the True Seeker

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

O thou who are athirst for the water of Life! This manifest Book is the fountainhead of the Water of Life eternal. Drink so much as thou art able from the fountain of the living water. – Abdu’l-Baha, from the frontispiece to Ali-Kuli-Khan’s 1913 translation of Baha’u’llah’s The Book of Certitude.

Now, in this series of essays on Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the True Seeker, we come to the section that defines the inmost essence of spiritual search, and names the conditions that slake the thirst of those who want to drink the water of life.

In this portion of his beloved tablet, Baha’u’llah lists ten desirable and important spiritual characteristics of the true seeker, calls them “essential conditions,” and encourages us to adopt “the attributes of the exalted:”

1. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire.

2. He should treasure the companionship of those that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit.

3. At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved.

4. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.

5. He should succour the dispossessed, and never withhold his favour from the destitute.

6. He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance.

7. He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth.

8. He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil.

9. With all his heart should the seeker avoid fellowship with evil doers, and pray for the remission of their sins.

10. He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner, at the hour of death, attained to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the celestial Concourse. And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul’s ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire.

Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness.

These are among the attributes of the exalted, and constitute the hall-mark of the spiritually-minded. They have already been mentioned in connection with the requirements of the wayfarers that tread the Path of Positive Knowledge. When the detached wayfarer and sincere seeker hath fulfilled these essential conditions, then and only then can he be called a true seeker. Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: “Whoso maketh efforts for Us,” (Qur’an 29:69) he shall enjoy the blessing conferred by the words: “In Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.” (Ibid.) – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 193-195.

Do you see yourself as a wayfarer who treads “the path of positive knowledge?” Many think of themselves that way, but few commit to the actual struggle, the real transformative work necessary to achieve such a high calling. The sincere spiritual seeker, Baha’u’llah says in this portion of the tablet, must earn that station, by acting in ways that consistently focus on approaching the Eternal, “the object of all adoration.”

Spiritual search, this powerful passage from the Tablet of the True Seeker tells us, means much more than simple curiosity or the mere acquisition of intellectual learning—it means committing to develop a permanent, enlightened way of being that exemplifies kindness, detachment, forgiveness, humility and love. It means exemplifying the divine attributes. It means transcending our lower animal nature and fully inhabiting our noble higher nature:

In man there are two natures; his spiritual or higher nature and his material or lower nature. In one he approaches God, in the other he lives for the world alone. Signs of both these natures are to be found in men. In his material aspect he expresses untruth, cruelty and injustice; all these are the outcome of his lower nature. The attributes of his Divine nature are shown forth in love, mercy, kindness, truth and justice, one and all being expressions of his higher nature. Every good habit, every noble quality belongs to man’s spiritual nature, whereas all his imperfections and sinful actions are born of his material nature. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 61.

The true seeker tries to aspire, always, to that higher nature.

Next: Penetrating the Hidden Mysteries of the Soul

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Comments

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  • Steve Eaton
    Aug 24, 2016
    -
    This was one of the passages I liked the most right away when first perusing the Writings. I saw it in
    "Baha'i World Faith" on pages 105-9,
    where it's called "The Morn of Divine
    Guidance". I still like where the editors decided to begin and end
    the passage! Near the end, it seemed
    to me to have the same kind of
    "mystical journey" tone as "The
    Seven Valleys", another of my first
    favorites!
  • Hooshang S. Afshar
    Aug 21, 2016
    -
    Seems to me only true saints like Abdul-Baha and the Guardian and others like them can achieve all of these. Human's material and physical needs and drives bring him close to the animal kingdom - predatory. Anyway, thank you for this reminder, I need it.
  • Peter Seery
    Aug 20, 2016
    -
    Thank you David. This is very interesting and very useful.
  • Adib Masumian
    Aug 20, 2016
    -
    This is a great article, and I don't mean to sound nitpicky, but I feel I must point out that there really is no such work among the Baha'i Writings as "the Tablet of the True Seeker." As you point out, this is a passage from the Kitab-i-Iqan that was misidentified at some point as a separate Tablet of Baha'u'llah. I think it would be much more accurate to dispense with that characterization, which is really a misnomer, and introduce the passage as an excerpt from the Kitab-i-Iqan. That way, no one would be led to believe it is a ...separate Tablet addressed to someone else.
    Just my two cents. Thanks again for the great piece; looking forward to the following segments.
    Read more...
    • Patricia Ruth
      Sep 1, 2016
      -
      Thank you SO much for sharing this article on the Tablet of the True Seeker! It has been one of my favorite tablets of Baha'U'llah from His Kitab-I-Iqan. On my pilgrimage, Dr. Furutan mentioned to the pilgrims that one should read this book many many times. Like all of the Holy Writings, there's no end to reading and meditating on them. What matters most, for me, is to strive to put them into practice every day!!!
    • Patricia Ruth
      Sep 1, 2016
      -
      Thank you SO much for sharing this article on the Tablet of the True Seeker! It has been one of my favorite tablets of Baha'U'llah from His Kitab-I-Iqan. On my pilgrimage, Dr. Furutan mentioned to the pilgrims that one should read this book many many times. Like all of the Holy Writings, there's no end to reading and meditating on them. What matters most, for me, is to strive to put them into practice every day!!!
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